Lucky fisherman finds whale puke worth 3 million baht on Thailand beach

Photo via Sanook

A lucky fisherman stumbled across 3 kilogrammes of rare whale puke – or ambergris – while taking a stroll on the beach in Rayong, eastern Thailand, on Sunday. If genuine, he can sell the “floating gold” for 3 million baht (US$87,931).

Ambergris (“grey amber” in French) is a rare and valuable material produced in the digestive system of some species of whales, including sperm whales. It is a solid waxy substance that is either regurgitated by or passes through the whale.

“Floating gold” might smell like faeces when the whale spits it out but reportedly develops a unique and pleasant smell once it washes up on the beach and dries out in the sun. The substance is used as an ingredient in expensive perfumes to make the scent last longer, and because of its rarity, sells for a high price.

Chuwit Senanoi, a 36 year old fisherman from Rayong, was looking for shrimps and crabs on the beach in Pak Nam Prasae subdistrict, Klaeng district, when he stumbled across the valuable whale byproduct on Sunday.

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Chuwit said he was walking on the beach when he found five pieces of ambergris scattered on the sand near the HTMS Prasae Memorial. He said he recognised it because he’d seen it in the news before.

On the surface, Chuwit’s find looks like high-quality ambergris. However, he said he is waiting for experts to confirm whether the ambergris is genuine. Once he has received a certificate proving the ambergris’ authenticity, he is ready to sell the whale vomit immediately, he said. If it’s classified as Grade A ambergris, it can sell for up to 1 million baht per kilo.

In 2020, a man from Nakhon Si Thammarat in southern Thailand got rich quickly when he uncovered 100 kilogrammes of ambergris on the beach – one of the biggest chunks of whale vomit ever found. The puke was worth over 143 million baht (US$4.2 million).

Dogs are reportedly attracted to the smell of ambergris and are sometimes used by ambergris searchers.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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